Let’s talk about boy names with Z in them.
Not boy names beginning with Z. That’s a whole separate list, from traditional Zachary and Zane to novel Zen and Zayden.
Instead, boys names with Z in them come as a surprise. It’s a high value Scrabble letter tucked in the middle. And it’s a powerfully popular style.
Ezra and Ezekiel rank in the US Top 50.
Maybe it’s their Biblical status and traditional ties.
But Enzo is waiting, just beyond the Top 100.
No matter the other qualities, boy names containing Z offer something just a little more special.
The final letter of the alphabet remains relatively rare, though it might be an entire category of names on the rise.
Special thanks to @stenoknight for inspiring this post, after discovering German cellist, composer, and conductor Franz Ignaz Danzi. Danzi’s dad was Italian-born cellist Innocenz Danzi. Innocenz also had a daughter named Franziksa, who became a famous singer.
If the Danzi family can rock the letter Z way back in the eighteenth century, surely it can work for families today.
Let’s look at boy names containing Z.
Familiar to anyone who grew up on Little House on the Prairie. According to her books, it was a very old family name, dating to the time of the Crusades, when an ancestor’s life was saved by an Arab man named El Manzoor. The Arabic name means victorious.
Doctor Who fans almost certainly remember the episode where the doctor shouted “Allons-y, Alonzo!” You can watch the clips here. Of course, the fictional Alonzo might have spelled his name Alonso. Still, it adds a layer of sci fi fun to a Visigoth name softened by romance languages. Alonzo comes from the same roots as Alphonsus. Proof that boy names containing Z fare well? Alonzo outranks Alonso considerably.
AZAEL (#849); AZIEL (#278)
Also spelled Hazael, this name comes from an Old Testament king, or perhaps another character – sometimes spelled Uzziel.
From a Persian name meaning fire.
Another relatively obscure Old Testament pick,
Actor and comedian Aziz Ansari puts this name on the map. The Parks and Reaction alum wears a traditional Arabic name meaning respected. It’s considered one of the 99 names of God in Islam. Ever since Ansari rose to stardom, the name has increased modestly in use.
AZRAEL (#732): AZRIEL (#734)
This name is potentially just a little dark. It’s an Old Testament name meaning “my help is God” … but also, sometimes, an angel associated with death in several religious traditions. Still, it’s spiked in use recently – especially Azrael – possibly thanks to a character on Netflix’s Lucifer.
By custom, the Three Wise Men are called Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthazar. Balthazar might be the most popular of the trio. (Though Gaspar is also cousin to Jasper, which would reset that equation.) Just as with Alonzo/Alonso, Balthazar-with-a-Z ranks higher.
Australian director Baz Luhrmann was born Mark, but got his nickname from a puppet on children’s television called Basil Brush. Baz might be short for Basil or Sebastian. But it our age of Jax, it might also stand on its own.
Change the spelling and saintly Blaise becomes fiery Blaze. But Blaise actually comes from a Latin word meaning lisping, while blaze derives from an Old English word meaning flame. Once again, parents prefer the Z spelling.
Bo- names, like Bodhi and Bowen, are rising in use. How ’bout Boaz? The Old Testament name has never cracked the US Top 1000, though it’s big in the Netherlands. Boaz reached a new high in the US last year, too – 218 boys received the name.
Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin answered to Edwin, Jr. But McFly singer-songwriter Tom Fletcher named his son Buzz Michelangelo in 2014. And from the 1930s through the 1990s, a handful of boys received the name. Admiration for Aldrin, maybe? Then again, some parents have always loved casual choices like Buddy and Sonny, too.
CAZIMIR (unranked); KAZIMIR (unranked)
In English, it’s typically Casimir – without a Z. But many forms of this Slavic name are spelled with a Z, and it’s an intriguing import possibility.
The Spanish surname Cortez feels commanding and full of swagger. Or maybe the name seems openly aggressive. After all, conquistador Hernan Cortes claimed Mexico for Spain, causing the downfall of the Aztec civilization and the deaths of countless people. And yet the meaning is gentle – courteous or polite. And plenty of other notables have answered to the surname, including poet-activist Carlos Cortez, and opera singer Viorica Cortez. If Jackson works, so does this name.
On a similar note, Cruz – the Spanish word for cross – has ranked in the US Top 1000 for years, rising sharply in use after the Beckhams chose the name for their son. It’s spiritual, but remains edgy and cool, too.
Eighteen boys were given the name last year. Also spelled tsar, this title was given to Russian monarchs. Like the German Kaiser, it’s ultimately derived from Caesar. The ‘c’ is silent; in English, it rhymes with star and car. With picks like King and Messiah in use, no surprise that we’re hearing other title names, too – especially when they’re also boy names containing Z.
Denzel Washington put his distinctive name on the map, but the Oscar-winning actor is not the first. He’s actually Denzel, Jr. And Denzil, Denzell, and Denzel boast history galore. It appears on the map in Cornwall, as a surname for those originally from the area, and in sparing use as a given name, too.
ELEAZAR (unranked), ELIEZER (unranked)
Another Old Testament name – or perhaps two separate, but similar names. The Eli- version of the name has hugged the fringes of the US Top 1000 in recent years, possibly because we’ve embraced Eli and Elliott, too. The second name is much rarer.
ENZO (#121), LORENZO (#133)
Lorenzo is the romance language form of Lawrence. It was made famous by the famous Florentine statesman Lorenzo de Medici. Enzo seems like the logical short form, not only for Lorenzo but for names like Vincenzo, too. It might also claim independent roots. In any case, they’re among the more popular of the boy names containing z, with both Lorenzo and Enzo just a stone’s throw from the Top 100.
EZEKIEL (#49), EZEQUIEL (#332)
Zeke seems likely to appeal to parents considering short Z names like Zane. But Ezekiel is longer, more like Gabriel or Rafael. The Q spelling is more common in Spanish and Portuguese.
Ezio remains rare in the US, but it fits right in with Enzo. The Italian Ezio comes from a Greek word meaning eagle.
EZRA (#25); EZRAH (#941)
Literary, edgy, Biblical, and now a Top 25 choice for boys born in the US. Ezra sounds smart, but retains a lot of cool, too.
FITZ (unranked) and FRITZ (unranked)
Fitz and Fritz bring to mind longer names. Surnames like Fitzhugh and Fitzgerald originally indicated “son of” and later sometimes used for illegitimate children, like Fitzroy – son of the king. Fitz and the Tantrums takes part of their name from frontman Michael Fitzpatrick. Fritz, on the other hand, is short for Friedrich, the German form of Frederick. Both sound short, zippy, and interesting today, though neither appears in the US Top 1000.
A Scottish surname name also spelled Frasier and Fraser.
An Arabic name meaning “steadfast.”
HAZE (unranked), HAZEN (unranked)
Haze might be the equivalent of Hayes, a parallel to Blaze and Blaise. Hazen seems like a modern invention, though it could be cousin to Dutch and Germanic surnames like Haas. Or maybe the names mark an attempt to find a masculine equivalent of Hazel? Both are rare, but not unknown.
Like Ezekiel, this name might shorten to Zeke. Another Old Testament name, Hezekiah ruled the kingdom of Judah. Perhaps a name like this would once have seemed unwieldy. But today, longer names for boys feel mainstream, as do less common Biblical choices. If Elijah and Isaiah work, why not Hezekiah?
Isaiah is far more popular, but Izaiah has a Z.
The Polish form of George almost has potential. Except in American English, it hits like a creative take on Jersey, which seems like strange inspiration for a child’s name.
As Izaiah is to Isaiah, so Joziah is to Josiah.
A cousin to Kaison and Kaisen, with the added bonus of the letter Z.
It sounds like Enzo-with-a-K, but Kenzo is a Japanese name. Designer Kenzo Takada founded a fashion house in Paris and gave it his name. That introduced Kenzo to the wider world.
A name put on the list of possibilities by American rapper Kevin Gates. It’s also the name of his son, who is often featured on mom Dreka Gates’ Instagram.
LASZLO (unranked); LAZLO (unranked)
While the spelling seems non-intuitive for English speakers, Laszlo sounds very on-trend with the middle Z and ending O. A Hungarian classic occasionally heard in the US, Laszlo makes a bold choice. Actor Jason Biggs has a Lazlo. So does musician Pete Wentz, though he spelled it Lazslo.
LAZARAUS (unranked), LAZARO (unranked)
Another Biblical pick, Lazarus derives from Eleazar, mentioned earlier. In the New Testament, Jesus brought Lazarus back to life. The name has yet to crack the US Top 1000, though Lazaro – the Spanish form – has charted occasionally from the 1960s into the 1990s.It’s on the upswing in recent years, thanks to both the letter Z and the name’s connotations of rebirth.
Originally short for Lorenzo, Lonzo has attracted attention in the US thanks to the NBA’s Lonzo Ball.
While a great many Old Testament names are back in favor – or being discovered for the first time – Melchizedek, the name of an ancient king, remains obscure.
An Arabic name.
A Hebrew name from the Old Testament, also sometimes spelled Uzziah, which also fits on the list of boy names with Z in them.
A cuddly nickname name with a heavy metal edge, Ozzy can be short for lots of longer names. But in our age of Charlie-not-Charles and Theo-not-Theodore, it stands on its own nicely, too.
Best known as the given name of the current Dalai Lama, Tenzin means “upholder of teachings” in Tibetan.
Xavier is a traditional Basque name maAde famous by a saint. Pronunciation varies; Xzavier makes it clear that parents are saying the “ex” in front of the “zay.”
Do you have boy names with Z in them on your list?
First published on October 5, 2016, this post was substantially revised and re-posted on May 31, 2023.
Biblical (Old Testament) name Hazael could lead to Haze …
C in DC says
In the DC area, former Georgetown basketball star Alonzo Mourning inspired a few namesakes. And I’ll always have a soft soft for Almanzo (Wilder).
The Mrs. says
Boaz and Ezra seem like the perfect sibling set. Two syllables, Old Testament, and -of course- containing the zip of ‘Z’. Love them together!
Baz is a pretty rad name, too. Maybe it fits into the same bucket as Buzz, more nickname than full name. But it sounds edgy and “bad boy” while still being laid-back. I think it would sound especially nice with an alliterative surname… Baz Browning, Baz Beckford, Baz Button…yeah, cool.
Zaccai! I believe there are a few legitimate ways to spell it, but I think Zaccai is the most accessible because of the popularity of Kai/Cai.